[personal profile] magnio
The elections are approaching and once again I am reminded that I am an election geek. Not a political geek, but one loving elections for the case of elections.

I am (for the 4th time) elected as polling committee member during the elections here in September, and tonight was the semi-compulsory information meeting for all officers. It was very interesting. I thought I had been to a couple of these meetings before (except 2 years ago), but I didn't remember the guy organizing it being som witty. Either he wasn't last time, or someone else held them.

Anyway, the elections (municipality and county this year, it alternates with the parliament election every two years, each has a 4 year term) are much the same as they have been during my terms in the the polling committee, with two exceptions: the ballot boxes are now sealed, and the voters should show photo id. (But if they don't have any, they should be allowed to vote. The risk of election fraud among 91 year old women is considered low and acceptable.)

As a petimeter election geek I have requested sealed ballots and tougher photo id requirements for a while.

Norway may be a country full of love, democracy and nice people, but we are also part of the world, and I think any election organisation in Norway should also be acceptable in USA, Somalia, India or any other country we may or may not like to compare to.

One factor that perhaps makes the unsealed boxes and the unidentified voters less serious is that much of the election actions are performed on a low level in the organization. Everything is organized top-down, with committees on different levels from the national via counties and municipalities to each polling station. The counting, though, expands bottom-up. Each polling station does a temporary count after closing time, making sure there are no more votes than voters (it's not an exact match at the local elections, since there are two elections and you can vote in either or both, but with only one mark in the electoral rolls), and then counting the votes and reporting the numbers up.

After the first report (which is first reported via phone, then the official papers are handing over to the next level of officials) the numbers can't really be adjusted much. Some adjustments are expected, though each polling committee put some honour in getting it right at first attempt, but it's usually not more than 10 votes from each polling station (so less than 500 for all the city). It's not possible to adjust the numbers after the final count is out, and it's very hard to affect the numbers much at all. You'd have to be very organized and do a lot of work at all the polling stations to make an impact.

(Ok, there is voting before election day, about 20% of the votes are cast there. These votes are counted on municipal level, so in theory it would be easier to cast a lot of pre-votes and try to affect the elections that way. But the requirements for id are stronger for voting before election day, you must have one with photo and personal id number. The chances of anyone discovering the suspicious activities will increase the more you abuse it, since the voters are marked in the electoral rolls and it will look suspicious if many complain that their votes were already registered on election day.)

I like being a part of this system and to make the election day go as smooth as possible. It's hard work, from 8 am to midnight or so, but very rewarding and I feel it's my part of making democracy work. And this year I have a stronger feeling that our way of doing it might even work in Somalia, USA or India, too.



November 2012

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